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Handy Award winners have the blues

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Mavis Staples and Charlie Musselwhite each won three awards at the 26th annual W.C. Handy Awards, and B.B. King was named entertainer of the year for the seventh time in a row.

Staples won best album for ``Have a Little Faith,'' which also won soul album, and she was named top female soul artist Thursday night. Musselwhite won for best contemporary male artist and best harmonica player, and his ``Sanctuary'' album won the award for contemporary album.

Musselwhite said the blues is a reflection of life.

``It's music played from the heart,'' he said. ``It celebrates good times and gets you through the bad. I call it my comforter.''

The Holmes Brothers were named top band, Staples' ``Have a Little Faith'' won top song for writers Jim Tullio and Jim Weider, and John Lee Hooker Jr. won as best new artist.

The awards, named for blues pioneer W.C. Handy and called ``Handys,'' are given out by The Blues Foundation of Memphis.

Handy, a bandleader who performed in clubs along the city's famous Beale Street in the early 1900s, is credited with being the first musician to put blues music into written form.

Before that, the distinctive American music that sprang from the songs of poor black residents of the Mississippi River Delta was passed along from one artist to another.
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